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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Multilingualism and linguistic policies in Nigeria
Author:Oyetade, S. Oluwole
Periodical:African Notes: Bulletin of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Geographic term:Nigeria
Subjects:language policy
Abstract:Nigeria is thoroughly multilingual and linguistically extremely fragmented. Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo are regarded as the major Nigerian languages. Then there are about 25 minor languages, spoken by 100,000 speakers or more. Prominent among these are Edo, Annang, Nupe, Urhobo, Igbala, Gwarri and Itsekiri. The remaining, minority, languages, which constitute up to 80 percent of the total number of languages spoken in the country, are spoken by smaller ethnolinguistic groups. Superimposed on the indigenous languages is English, the language of commerce and industry and, in its written form, the language of administration. One of the major problems of multilingualism in Nigeria is the lack of an effective communication network, i.e. a medium enabling communication between the different ethnic groups (and also between different classes). Closely connected with problems of interethnic communication is the question of national unity, the presumed threat which linguistic diversity poses for peace and stability and the potential uproar which would result if one language is favoured to the detriment of others. Perhaps this is why Nigeria has been unable to decide on a single national language. A multilingual option is arguably more feasible. As a nation committed to unity in diversity, it would be proper for government to recognize the major and minor languages and develop them equally. In this way multilingualism could be an asset for Nigeria and a source of cultural and social enrichment. Bibliogr., notes, ref.